The weather forecast was right: the sun was shining! So we quickly went to pick up our skis and headed for the gondola. And again we were amazed: while the day before everything was packed, i.e. the streets etc., there was very little going on this day.
We drove back to the middle station. On the way, we saw all the toboggan-indians who had to pull the toboggans up on foot. Unfortunately there are no photos of this, but sledging works differently here. You hire a sledge with a man. The man either pulls you through the landscape or sits in the front while you hurtle down the hill. In any case, it’s quite popular.
Those who didn’t have sledges probably had something else to do up there. Then we transferred to the gondola to the top station.
However, we didn’t really see a slope and at the top a ski guide then enlightened us: there aren’t any! It’s a bit embarrassing, but I didn’t quite read up on the ski area in terms of content – I just thought there were gondola/lifts, so there were also groomed slopes. Gulmarg is popular and known for its countless off-piste runs. And for that, you also take a ski guide who knows where good skiing is. We were by no means the only western faces here, there were very many who could ski and snowboard very well and found great conditions.
Unfortunately, I’m not very good with that, so with deep snow skiing especially without a guide, neither is Soenke and so we were reasonable and changed our plans. Since we were already up at 3,970 m, the sun was shining and the view was fantastic, we walked around a bit without skis.
We were not alone on top, but the people masses were manageable. We met this nice couple from Delhi:
Like the others, we enjoyed taking photos, the sun, the mountain panorama and were happy that we had caught this sunny day. The sun was quite warm, the altitude high and the trudging around a bit exhausting.
So we went back to the middle station. From there there is also a chairlift that doesn’t go quite as high and there it also looked like a groomed slope to us – so we took it back up.
However, we were deceived here as well: no groomed slope. Only in the lower area was there a well flattened track. The upper part was full of loose deep snow for which I had no practice and found it very difficult to get down. Once I plopped down, a ski came off. That’s actually good. Only then I couldn’t see it any more. I could see myself searching in vain for hours and then stumbling down in frustration with just one. But no way – suddenly a very helpful Indian stopped, tapped the snow with his poles and found the ski on the third try. I was so relieved! Otherwise, too, everyone quickly stopped at those who had fallen or looked helpless, as we had experienced the day before, and we were both thrilled by the different atmosphere compared to the Alps.
At the middle station we were really tired from this descent, had a late lunch, then drove down and returned the equipment.
Conclusion: we had a very interesting time with many good to very good details and I now know much more about skiing in India, especially in Gulmarg. For people who can ski off-piste well, it is really a dream here, for usual slope skiers like me it is a bit too hard. The crowds are sometimes a bit exhausting (especially the honking and sometimes sliding cars), but it is also very interesting to have a look and we were both very happy with our decision to go there. For my clientele? For those who want to experience something special in terms of skiing/snowboarding: definitely a good idea! It can also be combined with a subsequent stay in warmer climes.
One more thing to say: in our accommodation, the people were also very nice and very helpful. It was obviously difficult to find someone who would pick us up at 6:00 in the morning at an acceptable price and take us to the airport. But they were successful there too and it worked out very well.
And so we drove to the airport, Soenke got on his plane to Delhi and I got on mine to Leh. And that’s where I want to stay for the next three weeks.